Rains Cause Flooding in Coastal Areas of Guatemala: Guatemala is getting struck by mother nature once again. Flooding along the southern coast of Escuintla has force more than a dozen families to evacuate. While the damage as of yet has not been that bad, the rain was supposed to continue though Sunday.
Guatemalan Army to Expel Drug Traffickers from National Park: In a theme running throughout Colom's administration, he is once again calling out the army. In July, Colom sent an additional 500 troops to the capital to patrol. This time the president is sending the army to Peten along the borders with Mexico and Belize to take back Laguna del Tigre from drug traffickers. The troops will deploy to the region sometime in September. I don't imagine that the action will be very successful. Even if the troops are initially successful at rooting out the drug traffickers who have disguised themselves as cattle ranchers, there are no plans to leave the the troops there permanently. Any gains they make will be given back once they redeploy from the large wilderness of Peten.
In extortion news: According to Consejo Asesor de Seguridad (a group comprised of members of civil society), approximately 1 in 10 Guatemalans have been subjected to extortion. Government statistics, on the other hand, indicate that 30% have suffered some form of extortion. Gangs that carried out these extortion rackets against the transport system, small business owners, and ordinary Guatemalans bring in about $9 million per year and and increase the price of basic goods by approximately fifteen percent. Two-thirds of those extortions reported to authorities have occurred in the capital (uthorities El Nuevo Herald, Inside Costa Rica).
In response to the ongoing extortion crisis, the Colom administration has created a new program called "Stop Extortion Crime." The program's
objective is to promote a culture of denouncing such crimes, since at present pressures from criminals, including death threats, encourage the victims to remain silent, and this perpetuates the crimes.
Guatemalan youth campaigned on a similar theme last month
3,000 Guatemalan youth campaign for a better Guatemala (Jóvenes impulsan una campaña para mejorar Guatemala) by overcoming violence through "punctuality, cleanliness, order, and courtesy and excellence in the workplace."